Shout Out To My Fellow Pastors

Humility – Blessing others, looking to other’s interests, encouraging others…considering others BETTER than you. I SUCK AT HUMILITY. That’s what I want to do in this blog post. I am not as good as think I am and I want to shout out to those who are better! There are a group of fellas, fellow Pastors who I admire, respect, and love to serve with at Fellowship Church. This is a shout out to them, by letting you know the great qualities of each of them. They are better than me.

Pastor Kirk – Kirk Jones is the type of dude who is unapologetic-ally himself. The authenticity he brings to our staff and to our church is the same guy I know off the stage. What you get from our lead pastor when he preaches is the same guy you get if you are ever in a one on one conversation with him. This dude has massive vision and desires to take us to the next level yearly. If I have a question he’s got an answer. If he sees an issue, he’ll address it on the spot with the truth in love. He has called out my ignorance a few times in a truthful way that more so uplifted me than put me down. If I want honesty, Kirk is the man I want to hear it from. Kirk knows how to communicate truth as a preacher. Though our styles may be different, Kirk has a way to simplistically and profoundly sharpen your mind with the truth of scripture in his own uniqute way. I have served as youth pastor under 4 pastors, and Kirk is my favorite one to listen to as a preacher. Kirk Jones, is always Kirk Jones. He is the most interesting man on the planet, stay “Kirk-y” my friends.

Pastor Brian – Brian Robert has the heart of 10 men. I believe Brian has the biggest heart for people on our staff. This dude is a relentless servant for people and he is a representation of a man who goes the 2nd and sometimes the 3rd mile. Many of our students see him as a father figure type, a guy who has wisdom for a thousand years and the kind of counselor I enjoy learning from. In situations where I might throw a tantrum and show utter frustration, Brian is a guy who demonstrates the patience I crave. Brian is a man’s man, a guy I think all of us should strive to be like. I have loved working with this dude as a partner in ministry, and even more, I have loved learning and growing as a man through seeing him live his life. Brian Robert is your best friend and you don’t even know it!

Pastor Todd – Todd Blount is the smartest man alive! Todd is an incredible communicator and is just an overall sharp dude. Todd looks like he is in his late 20’s with the wisdom of a 60 year old. Todd is a great representation of the Perfect Punctual (Though we all know he is far from perfect) I doubt this dude sins 5 times a day (Again, a lie but that’s how much integrity I see in this dude). Todd is the kind of guy you want on your team. He is listens, gives solid advice, and knows how to stay on top of tasks, family, and ministry. His priorities are to my knowledge never in any kind of chaos, and he always desires to serve the Lord and study the scriptures in both quality and quantity. My dude Todd is a guy you want to listen to and model after when it comes to various aspects of life, but ultimately, his devotion as a disciple to the Word of God. Todd Blount’s memory is so good he has the whole Church’s birthdays memorized!

Pastor Jonathan – Jonathan Ickles is the most animated dude I have ever met. Anybody that knows Jonathan knows they will get a laugh within the first few minutes of knowing him, and if you know him, you just look at him and laugh. Ickles is a guy who just loves life and loves to laugh. I learned when  I was in high school that I HAVE to learn to laugh at myself, and I have always been good at that. Jonathan is a dude who I can actually joke with and get a joke right back. Most of the time I like to set him up to make fun of me just because I want to laugh! Jonathan is the kind of father I want to be. Dude has 5 kids, and makes time for every single one of them in a very unique way. He makes them each feel like they’re the best kid on earth. I want to enjoy life as much as Jonathan Ickles. As a guy who struggles a lot with anxiety, I can always use more laughter and clown myself. He is also my favorite worship pastor. He is better than Christ Tomlin, David Crowder, the guy who leads Hillsong United (whoever that is), and whoever your favorite is, Jonathan Ickles is better. He’s your favorite worship leader’s favorite worship leader. Jonathan Ickles smells like comedy, take a whiff and laugh for 3.5 hours.

I love these Pastors. I have learned so much from them and am blessed to serve on such a great pastoral team. I am the Pastor I am today at Fellowship Church because I work with these dudes. God has blessed every single one of these dudes with gifts and abilities better than mine. I cannot wait to keep learning from them. I pray, you feel the same way! Love Your Pastors!

Keep it Real (and a note about Mother’s Day)

Keeping it real is one of the 4 core actions at Fellowship Church.  We believe it is essential to living a life of faith.  It requires willingness to be 2 things.  Be authentic and be unique.

Unfortunately, most people find it difficult to be authentic and unique in a healthy manner.  Often uniqueness is confused with being eccentric and authenticity is confused with selfish rudeness.  This, however, is not what they mean.

There is no clearer call to authenticity in Scripture than when we are taught in James 5:16 , “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”  Authenticity requires the willingness to share your struggles not just your successes.  True authenticity even leads us to discussing how these things became true in our lives.  A place and group to be authentic is not easy to find and is even harder to maintain.  Authenticity is always only one cover up or lie away from being lost.

I hope you are finding some people who are following hard after Christ you can be authentic with.  The number one way to experience that is to become the type of person that others believe they can be authentic with.  Become the type of confidant that can be trusted to listen with grace, speak truth with love, and mourn with the mourning.  Keeping it real starts with you.  I know it is a scary proposition, but lead out.

Being unique does not mean a person needs to look radically different or stand out physically.  Uniqueness means honoring the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  In 1 Corinthians 12 we are taught, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  God did not make you good at what you are good at simply for your good, but for everyone’s good.

Many believers fail to ever take their unique place in the Kingdom of God simply because they do not see (or want to see) the value of investing their talents and gifts in the spiritual well-being of others.  How are other people growing in their faith and life because of who God made you uniquely?  If you cannot answer that question with clarity, I pray you will dive deep into what it means to be gifted by God and to use those gifts for his glory.  Invite a mature believer into this journey and ask them to hold you accountable to finding a place to serve the Lord within the church and allow them to speak wisdom into how you might be gifted to do that.

This Sunday is an opportunity at Fellowship to Keep it Real.  Mother’s Day is a great celebration that someone came up with.  It is not a Biblical holiday.  It has no command or calling behind it.  Yet, mothers find it meaningful and encouraging.  It is a great opportunity for us to honor one another above ourselves.

There is, however, a dark side to such a celebration.  Many women find Mother’s Day to be one of the most difficult days of the year.  They have experienced the pains of infertility, loss of child, miscarriages, and abortions.  This day is often a hard reminder instead of a joyful celebration.  Fellowship has some ladies of great faith that lead in our church that have experienced such pains personally.  This year one of the ladies that leads out in ladies’ ministry is hosting a special time for ladies that find this day difficult.  (That difficulty might also be because of recent loss of one’s own mother or broken and damaged relationships with your own children – for whatever reasons.)  We simply want to give a place for ladies dealing with these pains to Keep it Real with one another.  You will study the Word together, pray together, and encourage one another.  We are not publishing the details for this event publicly because of the private nature of it, so if you are interested in this event please email us today at alanoux@gmail.com and someone will contact you with the information.

Tell A Better Story

Book

Last week, I had the great privilege of traveling- along with Pastors Kirk, Brian, and Griff- to Atlanta, Georgia for three days of refreshing, energizing, and challenging training for pastors and leaders.  The theme of the conference we attended was For Our Neighbors, which- if I keeping it completely real with you here- didn’t do much for me initially.  After all, I figured, I’m already a pretty neighbor-ly guy.  Tell me something I don’t already know!

Well, as is often the case in life and faith, often what we need isn’t the revelation of something new, but rather the repetition of something old.  And as we traveled back home on Friday evening, I was pretty confident that God has said exactly what He intended to say to me in our three days away.

You don’t need me to tell you this, but it hasn’t been the easiest, most pleasant year in our community- or in our nation, for that matter.  We’ve stared down- and continue to face today- a potent combination of challenges, from natural disasters to racial tensions to political drama to the everyday maladies that come our way in this broken world.

I have my stories.
You have your stories.
We have our stories.
And in the midst of that turmoil, we all have a choice to make- particularly so as the people of God, called by His name.

Can we tell a better story?

Ryan Leak, one of the presenters at last week’s event, said something striking about the current state of affairs in our world- “If things are as bad as we say they are (and they may well be!), then now is the best time we’ve had in a long time to make a difference for good.”  Do you believe this?  If so, does your life as a follower of Jesus reflect that?

Let’s face it- It would be very easy to wither under the onslaught of sin’s effects in our lives and in our world today.  It would be easy to complain and condemn.  It would be easy to hunker down and isolate ourselves.  It would be easy to descend into the battle using the world’s weapons and ways.  It would be easy to give up the fight altogether.  Chances are, we’ve all tried on one or more of these strategies at some point.

But if we believe our own message as followers of Jesus, then we should be neither surprised by the state of the world we’re in, nor cynical about God’s ability to bring restoration into even the most broken of situations and circumstances.  And as His representatives and ambassadors this side of heaven, it’s our responsibility and opportunity to speak that truth- and to live it too!

Can we tell a better story?

Here are a few ways I believe we can, starting right now…

  • When literal storms rage (and they do!), we can be on the leading edge of caring with compassion for those afflicted and impacted, working to help them put the pieces of their homes and lives back together. By the way, this is one we’ve seen firsthand in a powerful way over the past nine months…but the need isn’t behind us yet.  Consider coming out this Saturday, May 6 for our next Geaux Day to serve families still rebuilding!
  • When storms of moral confusion rage (and they are!), we can point with conviction and compassion (both as essential) to the gracious design of a Creator who is working not for our harm, but rather for our joy. Even as we are often misunderstood and mischaracterized, we can stand ready to welcome the world-worn “refugees” of a sexual “revolution” that has left in its wake far more victims (especially women and children) than victors.
  • When storms of racial tension rage (and they are!), we can work to build bridges of empathy and understanding among different groups, seeking healing and reconciliation in real relationships with others. As followers of Jesus, we have the unique opportunity to demonstrate to the watching world the power of a Christ-centered diversity that finds its power in a shared identity that doesn’t deny our differences, but does transcend them.
  • When storms of political division rage (and they are!), we can steadfastly refuse to take up the world’s weapons of hatred and hostility, and instead contend for Christ-exalting convictions while at the same time demonstrating Christ-like character. We can hold up our ultimate allegiance to a King and a Kingdom that transcends the temporary, and hold to the confidence that He is indeed sovereign over all the affairs of humankind, even when that is tough to see.  On this basis, we can trade in the “pocket change” of temporary political wins for the bottomless riches of His eternal victory- and then work in love to see light overcome darkness in the meantime.
  • When storms of spiritual aimlessness rage (and they are!), we can bear witness to the wanderers that there is an Answer to all their longings- and His name is Jesus Christ. We can demonstrate that it is in Him alone that the peace, purpose, justice, joy, hope, and love for which we’re all searching can be fully and finally found.

Friends, as the people of God, called by His name, we have a better story.  God has given that to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the Gospel.  He now calls us to raise our voices and proclaim it in word and deed to the watching, wondering, wandering, weary world- not simply as a religious story confined to our pews and pulpits on Sundays, but as a rescue story released in power through every corner of our lives every single day.  That’s our opportunity.  That’s our responsibility.  That’s our privilege!

Will you tell a better story?

Are Your Prayers Really Repentant?

“Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish:

Jonah 2:1

Jonah, one of the most beloved children’s stories. As a kid I remember reading books on Jonah. Seeing the pictures of him fleeing away from God’s command to go preach to Nineveh. He’s sitting in wooden boat’s bottom deck with a wicked look on his face as if he really fled from an omnipresent God, with God’s brilliant light shining at the bottom of the deck to show Jonah, “I can’t believe you as a prophet think you can actually outrun me!” God has to laugh right? All of a sudden the sailors are freaking out that there is a storm that is about to rip apart their precious boat and cargo while Jonah is snoozing. “What are you doing? Wake up! Call to your god!” Jonah has a conversation with these pagan sailors about his ethnicity and boldly declaring his faith in the God he worships, “The God of the heavens who made the sea and the dry land.” Reading the rest of Jonah 1 you will see that Jonah has the sailors throw him off the boat (as if he could not do it himself) to stop the madness and a great fish swallows him. Growing up we look at Chapter 2 of Jonah and think it is so incredible that Jonah is in prayer. Once again, the books portray Jonah being in a dome like structure, not a fishes belly I guess for being to graphic. This dude is in muck and gross-ness! He is in the digestive system of a fish, not a dome! But where we get really pumped up, is when Jonah is praying! We shout “Woo! Jonah is about to repent, he is about to get it in with God!” We get inspired and without actually dissecting his prayer we move on. From studying this passage there are 3 things I see in this text that show a very unrepentant prayer. A prayer that kind of looks like some of ours.

First of all, the beauty of this text starts in verse 1, “Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish:” Jonah has rebelled yet this text still says the Lord is his God. Check this: Your salvation and access to God is not determined by how much you obey him, it is only determined by His love for you. This is grace. The gospel is God coming after us. And God has not abandoned Jonah, Jonah has abandoned God. God loves him, and he loves you too. However, look at Jonah’s prayer and compare it to sometimes how we pray. We will see it is not really a prayer of repentance.

Jonah 2:2-9.

2 I called to the Lord in my distress,† and he answered me. I cried out for help from deep inside† Sheol;† you heard my voice.† 3 You threw me into the depths,† into the heart of the seas,† and the current† overcame me. All your breakers and your billows swept over me.† 4 But I said, “I have been banished† from your sight,† yet I will look once more† toward your holy temple.† 5 The water engulfed me up to the neck;†† the watery depths overcame me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.† 6 I sank to the foundations of the mountains,† the earth’s gates shut behind me forever!† Then you raised my life† from the Pit, Lord my God!† 7 As my life was fading away,† I remembered the Lord,† and my prayer came to you,† to your holy temple.† 8 Those who cherish worthless idols† abandon their faithful love,† 9 but as for me, I will sacrifice† to you with a voice of thanksgiving.† I will fulfill† what I have vowed. Salvation† belongs to the Lord.”†

The Essence of Jonah’s Prayer:

  1. Crying out IN Affliction rather than FROM Affection. Vs. 2-3

Sometimes we run to God only in our emergency more than we just want to run to him. Jonah should have already been praying. It took being swallowed up for him to hit his knees. Don’t get me wrong, praying from emergency is better than not praying at all. However, true disciples of The Way will want to go to God always in prayer.

  1. Attributing God as the Cause of Danger rather than our own Rebellion. Vs. 3-7

We need to realize that some of us are in trouble because of our constant disobedience. Our disobedience can drive us to dark places. Jonah kept saying that God threw him in the depths and all his creation overcame him. We can’t always say “Satan is just attacking me right now” when Satan is actually winning! God is sovereign but what gets us into pits of despair isn’t always a trial, it’s  because of our own faults. Yes, God still hears you, and you are never far from God, but God is wanting you to look to Him not to talk about all that you’re In. God wants to uproot your rebellion but he wants a repentant heart.

  1. Superficial Spirituality. Vs. 9.

Superficial spirituality looks and sounds holy and good but it’s not authentic. It focuses on Self . It Prays only in tough circumstances and it excuses ones sins but is quick to talk about others’ sins. Jonah says “Those who cherish worthless idols abandon their faithful love.” Does that describe you? Praying a prayer just to get by? Yelling to God about everything you are in and what’s going on around you rather than saying “God  I have failed because of my utterly sinful heart!” I cannot with good conviction say Jonah is repentant when the only sin he points out is others.

Christian, there is hope for you still like there was still hope for Jonah. Once again, the Lord is still your God! You might be in a pit but you are not dead!  J.D. Greear says, “The real pit is separation from God, not a particular circumstance.” Sometimes we need to evaluate our prayer lives and the hearts behind them. God desires a heart after him! Don’t act Jonah, walk in obedience delighting in the Lord your God.

The Indescribable

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.  (2 Corinthians 9:15)

There is no gift greater than God’s grace.

In 2 Corinthians 9 Paul is exhorting and encouraging the people of God to be generous because God is generous.  He teaches them to give cheerfully and not begrudgingly nor because of requirement or expectation.  The teaching is that God is a good and gracious God and generosity honors him and brings him praise.

I believe one of the greatest dangers for a Christ-follower is to lose one’s appreciation for the grace of God.  It is easy to take grace for granted.  If we are not careful in how we consider the love and work of Christ, we fail to consider fully and truthfully the grace of God.  The value of our forgiveness becomes common place.  The cost for our souls is not purposefully belittled, we simply fail to stop and consider the gift we have received.  We begin – if we are not careful – to treat that which is indescribable as something much less than it is because we have learned the words that are accurate theologically and we know the truths that are right doctrinally.  Those are so important but never allow what you understand theologically and doctrinally to lose its value personally.

This Easter Season I want to encourage you to do a few things to help you celebrate the inexpressible, unfathomable, and immeasurable grace of God given to you in Jesus Christ.

  1. Meditate on the events and happenings of the Passion of Christ. (Matthew 21-28, Mark 11-16, Luke 19-24, and/or John 12-21) Read it and consider that it happened.  Try to put yourself there.  Watch The Passion of the Christ to help you consider fully what grace cost.  Your salvation is a free gift to you because a high price was paid for you.
  2. Share your story of grace with someone who does not know the grace of God. Tell someone else the story of when and how you came to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Tell them about how you learned about grace and forgiveness.  Tell them there is no greater gift than the grace of God and I want to share the greatest gift I have ever received with you.  FCers, use your chess piece and have a conversation about how you met the King.
  3. Bring someone (or many some ones) to church with you this weekend.
    80% of people who do not attend church regularly say they would go to church if someone invited them – especially for a holiday.  Go to church with them.  If your church has multiple services work it out where you will be in worship service with the people you bring.  If you have people coming to multiple services (because you are truly BEING A BRINGER) then go to service with the person you think will feel most awkward without you – or attend worship multiple times.  This will give you the opportunity to discuss what is taught with them later.
  4. Spend some time with your family focusing on Jesus and not candy or eggs. I am not bashing eggs or killing bunnies here, but let’s be honest, they have nothing to do with Jesus or his death and resurrection.  They can, though.  Eggs can be used to tell the story of salvation.  (https://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Eggs-12-Piece-Religious-Figurines/dp/1602003920)  Honestly, I am not sure how to redeem the bunny myth, but make sure that you are focused on truth with your kids.  Specifically ask these questions and have these conversations.  –  Do you know why Jesus needed to die for us?  Because we are sinners. –   Do you know why Jesus would die for us?  He loves us. –   Where is Jesus now?  Reigning on His throne in Heaven at the right hand of God.

The gift of God’s grace is indescribable.
His love is immeasurable.
His glory is unfathomable.

So share it, shine it, and spread the great hope that our Savior lives!

Who’s Your Hero?

Lego Batman

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord”- 1 Corinthians 1:31 (ESV)

I recently took my two boys to see the new Lego Batman Movie.  It was a fantastic way to spend a night out with my “dudes” (their words).

The film was a great mix of kid-friendly features (I mean, what genius marketing to combine Legos and superheroes, two foolproof attractions for boys, into one overpriced film!) and snarky, adult-friendly humor.  As the name suggests, Batman sits at the center of movie’s storyline, soundly defeating every would-be evildoer that comes his way and saving the good people of Gotham City, over and over and over again.

He does a lot of good, and everyone in turn thinks he is great- most of all, Batman himself.  From an opening sequence where he saves Gotham while singing and rapping an anthem (to himself) called “Who’s The (Bat)Man,” it is clear throughout the movie that the Dark Knight’s “drug of choice” is the undying adulation to which (in his mind) his heroics have entitled him.  It is, in short, the fuel that keeps him going day after day, year after year, in the superhero life.

Now aside from a providing a couple hours of laughs, this obviously over-the-top character got me thinking- How often do we live our lives, especially in relationship to God, in much the same way?  To be more specific, how often do we do the “godly things” we do as a means to inflate our own egos, make an impression on others, and most dangerously and deceptively of all, entitle God to love and accept us?  How often do we set ourselves up as the hero of our own life and faith?  Perhaps we’ve learned how to dress it up a bit more subtly than Batman, but I’m concerned that for too many of us (including myself!), the heart is far too much the same.

In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul warns us of this universal temptation to “make much of ourselves”- and often to use God to do it!  He exhorts the Corinthians in 2:1-5…

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

So against the backdrop of Batman’s self-glorifying antics and Paul’s Holy Spirit-inspired warning, here’s a question for all of us to consider carefully today- Who is the “hero” of your faith?  That is, when others interact with you, hearing your speech and observing your actions, whose “glory” do they see and hear most on display?  Is it you, or is it “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”?  Here are a few questions to help you “keep it real” on this…

  • When you speak of your salvation, is your focus on God’s gracious provision or on your work in “getting your life right”?
  • When you speak of your growth in Christian maturity, is your focus on God’s power to transform or your efforts to “become a better person”?
  • When you do something good or godly, are you immediately tempted to tell someone about it (or to make it more timely, to post something about on social media for everyone to see)? If so, why?  What are you seeking to gain?
  • When you read the Bible, do you read primarily with yourself in mind, or with God in mind? In other words, who is at the “center of the story”?
  • When you share your faith with others, is your focus on everything they need to do, or on everything that God has done on their behalf?

I want to take care here not to be misunderstood in what I am saying.  I am not contending that we have no personal responsibility in following Jesus, or that it is always wrong to share of our successes and victories on that journey.  After all, the Bible does tell us in Matthew 5:16 to “let our light shine before men,” but let’s take care to read the reason we are to do so- “so that others might see our good works and praise our Father who is in heaven.”  In other words, it should always come back to Him- His grace, His power, His glory.  Jesus alone is worthy to be the “hero” of our lives!

See the Shore

I recently had the privilege of knocking a couple of items off of my bucket list.  There are a few things I really want to do in life.  One was to go to Hawaii – which we were blessed to do.  Another was to learn to surf – which I got to do.  To be honest, I expected more instruction.  I expected the lesson to be longer and harder.  The balance of standing up on a board flowing through the water was as difficult to figure out as I had imagined, but the process did not take as long as I thought it would.

Really were given just a few instructions.  One was about how to place ourselves on the board from back to front.  The second was about how to get to our feet.  The third was, “look at the shore.”  A pretty simple set of instructions – simple does not, however, mean easy.

As my son and I both started figuring out how to stand up and stay on the board, I realized the importance of keeping my eyes on the shore.  As I watched the GoPro video from the camera I was wearing, I realized that every time I wiped out, I had looked down before I went down.  I was looking at the wave and not the shore.

I am also aware that riding 30 plus waves during one surf lesson with someone helping me know the timing is far from being a surfer.  I feel, however, the lessons I learned looking for the shore, catching a wave, and riding a board might help me discuss some key marks of maturity we should all strive for our as Christ-followers.

Philippians 3:12-4:1 teaches us some important lessons about maturity in life and in our relationship with God.  There are three key points from this text I want to explore with you deeper.  I will give a quick breakdown of all the points I shared Sunday from this text (plus one) and then go further with 3 of them.

  1. Remember you’re not there yet. There is more maturity.  You can experience more growth.  You can walk in fuller obedience.
  2. Keep Looking Ahead. Don’t take your eyes off of Jesus – the Author and Perfecter of your faith.
  3. Press for the right prize. There is nothing more discouraging to realize you’ve been running hard – just the wrong race.
  4. Seek maturity through imitation. Paul tells others to imitate him as he imitates Christ. We all need to find people to imitate.  The right people!
  5. Measure your appetites. Consumption tells us where we are; appetites tell us where we are headed.
  6. Remember your citizenship. We are citizens of God’s Kingdom. Your life is meant to look and sound different.
  7. Stand Firm. It’s not always about gaining ground; some days you win if you simply do not lose any.

Keep looking ahead is the lesson we took to the water and used on a board.  Michael from Houston taught me this truth on a beach in Kihei, Hawaii and I did my best to apply it.  This lesson, however, is consistent in Scripture yet absent in the majority of our decisions.  How often do you really consider eternity when making a decision?  When was the last time you considered what effect that decision you were making about your finances or about your time was going to have on eternity?  Look ahead and never forget that our life here is not the point of our life here.

Seeking maturity through imitation is a key to living a healthy spiritual life.  You need people in your life that are good examples of following Jesus.  You need people you can ask questions.  Who are you learning from?  Who are you allowing to speak into your life?  One of the saddest things in Christianity is how people treat other believers when they start struggling with convictions.  They distance themselves from the very people they would have said just a year earlier were key examples in their Christian faith.  Then as they wrestle with issues and beliefs they lose their compass.  This is usually the result of arrogance or shame.  Some feel shame because they know better than where they are headed.  Others are arrogant enough to believe that all the other believers they have trusted and viewed as true Christ-followers (sometimes for years) have really all been wrong about Jesus all this time.  You need people to imitate and if you come across a place you feel imitating them does not imitate Jesus, don’t abandon them, influence them.  You might find they are not as wrong as you think they are…and then you both mature.

Maturity will never be found through isolation – although you do need some times of solitude.  It will never be found through jumping from place to place to find the truths you want to find – although God might move you along the way.  It will never be found outside of strong relationships with other believers who can speak into your life and you can speak into theirs – although this is very uncomfortable.  Maturity is an imitation issue and true imitation requires a level of intimacy in your relationships with other believers.

Measure your appetites; not just your consumption.  What are you desiring?  If you find yourself considering and thinking about the same things over and over again in life; you might be consumed.  You might even have an idol.  I encourage you to not just measure your consumption.  Don’t just measure what you are taking in.  Measure what you want to take in.  What is growing as an appetite?

Is it a hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Do you want more of the things of God or more of the things of this world?  Which is growing?  Your appetite will tell you where you are headed.  Be aware.  If you realize you have a dangerous appetite growing…tell someone you are imitating.  Tell another someone that you believe has the spiritual maturity to help you.  Don’t fade away alone.

So, set your eyes on the shore.  Don’t look back.  Find some people you can imitate and measure your hunger.  Today’s desires will be tomorrow’s decisions.